NEW ROCHELLE – Following up on their success at the state level, six students from Iona Preparatory competed in the National Speech and Debate Tournament in Birmingham, Ala., all last week, with three nearly breaking into octo-finals in their primary categories and two advancing in supplemental categories.
Additionally, Class of 1998 alumnus C. Ryan Joyce of Phoenix Country Day School was named the 2017 Middle School Coach of the Year. Returning to Nationals for the third consecutive year was New Rochelle resident Noah Darden, a 2014 Iona Preparatory Lower School graduate and rising senior at the Upper School who has qualified for the national tournament since his freshman year.
This year, he competed in the category of Programmed Oral Interpretation, having won the New York State Forensics League (NYSFL) Tournament April 29-30 in the category of Original Oratory. Last week, Darden broke into the top 100 nationally in the Prose and Poetry categories; he was eliminated after the sixth round in Prose and following the seventh round in Poetry.
Additionally, Darden is the inaugural recipient of the Ryan Coleman ’10 Memorial Scholarship, an award based on the ideals of academic excellence, kindness, helpfulness toward one’s school, sharing one’s talents, and commitment to community service.
At last year’s Nationals, Darden placed fifth out of 450 entrants and, just last month, he finished eighth in the Original Oratory category at the National Catholic Forensic League (NCFL) Tournament in Louisville, Ky.
Not to be outdone, Jacob Cannon, a sophomore from Katonah competing in Extemporaneous Speaking survived into the third round of Editorial Commentary. Also represented by Iona Prep at the tournament were:
- Patterson junior Anthony Rizzo competing in Informative Speaking.
- White Plains junior Matthew Holderman competing in Informative Speaking.
- Yorktown Heights senior James Sloat competing in Humorous Interpretation.
- Pelham Manor senior Tim Brisson competing in Student Congress.
Perhaps the biggest win of the national tournament, however, was Phoenix Country Day School coach C. Ryan Joyce, a 1998 Iona Preparatory Upper School graduate, being named the 2017 Middle School Coach of the Year.
Joyce was a 1997 National Speech and Debate Association finalist himself under coach Charles Sloat, a 1984 Iona Preparatory graduate and current Upper School mathematics teacher who is a New York Catholic Forensic League (NYCFL) Hall of Fame inductee. Sloat is the immediate-past president and current tournament director of the NYCFL, and secretary of the National NCFL.
“We are extremely proud of these exceptional students for their accomplishments and for representing the Maroon and Gold admirably on a national stage,” said President Brother Thomas Leto. “Our mission at Iona Prep is to develop young men into moral and ethical leaders who strive for spiritual, intellectual and physical excellence. Clearly, this group is on the right path, and our Coach of the Year alumnus shows where it can lead.
The tournament took place June 18-23 and focused on communication skills as an essential component for empowering young people to become engaged citizens, skilled professionals, and leaders in the global society. The event connects, supports and inspires a diverse community of honor society members committed to fostering excellence in young people through competitive speech and debate activities.